Posted in Projects on 2 May, 2023

Good vibes rebound as mid-century modernism meets mountain refuge.

Throughout history, Bad Gastein, a town in the Austrian Alps just outside of Salzburg, was known as a refuge for emperors and empresses seeking the healing powers of nature. They frequented the town for its landscape, thermal baths and nearby caves that are said to stimulate the metabolism of cells, among much else. The town declined in popularity around the 1970s, but in recent years it has reclaimed its place on the international cultural map as impassioned artists, architects and restaurateurs have been striving to reawaken it from its slumber.

The latest addition to this magical place is The Cōmodo, a new property helmed by Berlin-based designer Piotr Wisniewski and architect Barbara Elward, along with their agency weStudio.

“Here, in Bad Gastein, history is repeating itself a bit,” said Elwardt. “For more than 40 years, the magnificent buildings faded away, but there is now this new beginning. Bad Gastein feels to me like Berlin used to: crazy and lively, a spirit of optimism in a historic setting.”

Framed by forested cliffs and gaping valleys, The Cōmodo was reborn from the bones of an old clinic, with Wisniewski and Elwardt translating a mid-century modern vibe into a contemporary mountain escape. The result is a striking property with historical and geographical references, evoking the nostalgia of a 1960-1970s Alpine resort.

The design language, from the colour palette to the materials and structural forms, is deeply in tune with its Austrian roots, yet carefully reshaped with a contemporary flair. Inside, bold shapes and pops of colour create a warm and inviting atmosphere – an ode to the mid-century modernist style.

It is also a celebration of contemporary art and design pieces by some of today’s most exciting up-and-coming and established European talents. In the lobby-lounge, for example, is a red Camaleonda sofa by Mario Bellini, who first designed the iconic modular couch in 1970. This is a nod to the history of the nearby brutalist congress centre, designed by Gerhard Garstenauer, where public areas were furnished with Camaledona sofas when it opened in 1974.

On the wall close to the sofa is a ruby red Rondo mirror made of highly polished stainless steel by designer Oskar Zięta. The surface of the mirror reflects ‘breath in breath out’, an installation by internationally renowned artist Jeppe Hein that hangs on the opposite wall.

Other standout vintage pieces in the common space include Joe Colombo’s Elda chair and Gae Aulenti’s seating arrangement for Knoll International, both of which meld seamlessly among 117 bespoke designs by weStudio.

An overarching colour scheme of rich wine and bottle green offsets the original terrazzo floor while local materials, such as oak and pine, offer a timeless aesthetic – all of which extends into the hotel’s 70 guestrooms and suites.

The guestrooms, ranging from Mountain View Rooms to Garden Suites, are designed as modernist retreats. Fresh and playful with a distinct mid-century aesthetic, each is fitted with a spacious rain shower, air conditioning, a comfortable bed, oak parquet with floor heating and original vintage furniture. Each category has been thoughtfully designed as the perfect place to retreat. Some offer sweeping views deep into the Gastein valley while others overlook the woody forest pines through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Ranging from 19 to 50 square meters in size, all rooms feature unique tapestries, carpets, prints, and wall designs by artisans selected by weStudio. Amberdesign’s Gosia Warrink and Katja Koeberlin conceived 140 unique designs inspired by the colours and contours of the Bad Gastein mountains. One is a series of rugs that, following their designs, were then produced in Uttar Pradesh, India, during the pandemic using a mixture of Indian and New Zealand wool.

Design agency Fundamental created bespoke vases and candleholders for the guestrooms.

The four suites are also each equipped with a freestanding bathtub, a living room with a desk, a couch and a chaise lounge, plus record players, a small selection of LPs, and spacious balconies.

The hotel’s common spaces are filled with Gerrit Engel’s photography while Jeppe Hein’s artwork enlivens the lobby. The lobby is the pulsating heart of the hotel – a living room-esque space to meet, drink and gather. Each corner has been designed with its own story to tell – art, books and curios line the space, and a fireplace sets the scene for encounters with friends old and new.

A central bar and restaurant seamlessly transition to the summer garden and outdoor pool, blurring the lines between inside and out. The restaurant follows a farm-to-table approach, pairing stunning vistas with organic wines, classic cocktails, and modern Austrian cuisine.

Elsewhere, you’ll find co-working spaces, a fitness and yoga studio and the hotel’s own boutique cinema.

Wellness is deeply rooted in Bad Gastein’s DNA. The Cōmodo spa draws on these soothing qualities to create its own wellness traditions. The spa – complete with treatment rooms, two saunas and an indoor pool – offers a range of treatments from traditional massage and facials to concentrated plant power shots and soothing magnesium treatments.

In the winter season, nearly 220 km of ski slopes bend and twist throughout the Gastein valley, offering long, steady runs for the experienced skier. Come spring, the sun-drenched peaks offer a playground for nature lovers and plenty of solace for those seeking peace and quiet. The Cōmodo is an 80-minute drive (100 km) from Salzburg Airport, a three-hour drive (215 km) from Munich and its airport, and a five-minute taxi ride from the Bad Gastein train station.

The hotel is a bold debut for the Cōmodo brand and the first of a series of Design Hotels projected to pop up around the world over the coming years.

At a glance 
Owner: Barbara Elwardt
Operator: TheCōmodo Bad Gastein Hospitality GmbH
Architect: IOO Architekten with weStudio
Interior design: weStudio
Keys: 70






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